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Thursday, December 8, 2022
FairfaxOpinionEditorial: Students need to keep their backsides in class

Editorial: Students need to keep their backsides in class

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Last week brought another student walkout, as impressionable youth across the commonwealth, channeling their inner 1968 (if they catch that reference), staged protests Sept. 27 against changes in state policy regarding transgender students proposed by the Youngkin administration.

(File this one under “elections have consequences and those consequences can cut both ways,” kiddos …)

Taking no side in the subject under protest, we do raise a quiet plea – which we guarantee will either be ignored or attacked – that students stop using such conflicts to justify walking out of classes, thus effectively eliminating much chance of any educatin’ being done on any given school day. Even if students return, things are so discombobulated and the student body so agitated for the remainder of the day that there’s no way to get it back on track.

And to borrow from the Bard, whom one hopes today’s students are still studying despite the “European patriarchy” being under assault from some corners of the woke universe, such protests are largely self-indulgent and effectively boil down to all sound and fury, signifying nothing.

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Yet they do have unintended consequences in the broader scheme of things, and not in a good way.

To use Fairfax County as one example, last week started with a teacher workday on Monday (code for “three-day weekend, whoo-hoo!” for students and plenty of teachers), then a disrupted Tuesday.

At best, there ended up being three productive days of learning going on for the week, which alas seems about par for the course for local school systems that have a reflexive aversion to actually having students in seats, learning something, for five consecutive days in a row.

Know who was probably getting five days of learning instead of three last week? Just a hunch on our part: Hundreds of millions of kids and future competitors in China, India and a whole lot of other places that take education much more seriously than we seem inclined to, and don’t let the inmates run the asylum, if we may pay a little homage to the fabulous Nurse Ratched of “One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest.” (RIP Louise Fletcher, who died late last month at 88.)

Want to protest, young people of 2022? No problemo, as “WKRP” sales manager Herb Tarlek might have put it (yet another reference nobody under age 50 will get). Have at it. No complaints from us.

But if a subject is important enough to protest over, it should be important enough to do on your own time, not on the taxpayers’ dime.

Otherwise, intentionally or not, it merely comes across as a look-at-me moment coupled with a chance to waste another day that could be put to far more productive use in the classroom.

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